Who is Playa?
John Rivera Sedlar — Executive Chef/Partner
“This is a restaurant Los Angeles has needed for a very long time,” wrote Pulitzer Prize-winning critic Jonathan Gold in his L.A. Weekly review of Rivera restaurant. Now, with Playa, John Rivera Sedlar aims to fulfill yet another dining need for a casual-yet-sophisticated urban Latin dining experience, a culmination of more than 30 years as a chef and almost 40 in restaurant kitchens. Sedlar grew up in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and also spent three years in the Spanish cities of Sevilla and Zaragoza. In his early 20s, he gained a following as a chef in the South Bay region of Southern California—which led him to further his culinary education through an apprenticeship to legendary French chef Jean Bertranou of L'Ermitage in Los Angeles, where he mastered classic techniques while evolving his own approach to cooking. Sedlar next opened St. Estephe restaurant in Manhattan Beach, where he won renown as the Father of Modern Southwest Cuisine—also the title of his acclaimed first cookbook. Sedlar's awards and recognitions include selection among the Top Ten Chefs in America and the First Annual Culinary Arts Hall of Fame Awards, and a place on Food and Wine magazine's Honor Roll of American Chefs. Having traveled extensively throughout Mexico, Latin America, and Spain to study Latin food traditions first-hand, he is also the creator and founder of the first Latino food museum in the United States, Museo 26.
Bill Chait — Management/Partner
Bill Chait is the Managing Partner of Playa Rivera (Hola Rivera LLC) and is in charge of the development and management of the Company. In addition to his current position as Managing Partner of Rivera Restaurant with chef John Sedlar, Bill is a principal of Spark Restaurants LLC, a group of 3 Restaurants in Studio City, Huntington Beach and Simi Valley. In 2010, he created the acclaimed Los Angeles pop-up restaurant Test Kitchen, which pioneered an exciting new concept in dining featuring weekly appearances by renowned guest chefs. Bill Chait is transforming the Pico Location of Test Kitchen into the “Townhouse”, one of the most exciting new culinary venues on the west side of Los Angeles. The building will feature two unique restaurants on two floors, including Ricardo Zarate (Mo Chica) and Stephane Bombet opening Picca, a casual Peruvian restaurant on the second floor’ and Sotto, a casual Southern Italian restaurant on the primary first floor space of the building with Chefs Steve Samson, Zach Pollack and Dina Pepito. In July 2011, he is planning to open “Short Order” at the Farmers Market with Amy Pressman and Nancy Silverton. Bill is currently a director and Vice Chairman of LT Acquisition Corp., the Corporate Parent of Louises Trattoria. Mr. Chait has been involved in the restaurant industry for 25 years, during which time he developed and operated several restaurant concepts and was the founder of a multi-unit restaurant operation, Louise’s Trattoria, with locations in Southern California, Wisconsin, Washington DC, and Maryland. Mr. Chait’s other restaurant concepts have included several other Los Angeles based concepts including Angel City Grill, The Beverly Restaurant and Market, and Louise’s Italian Kitchen. Mr. Chait has been featured in numerous publications including Los Angeles Magazine, Restaurant News, Western Food Service, and Entrepreneur Magazine and the Los Angeles Times.
Osvaldo Maiozzi — Restaurant Architect/Designer
Osvaldo Maiozzi is one of the preeminent restaurant architects and designers working in Los Angeles today. A graduate of the University of Rome in 1981, he specializes in helping chefs and restaurateurs address the hundreds of details and solve the unique layout challenges of restaurant spaces. Maiozzi was the architect for Rivera Restaurant, is a partner and the principal designer of the Spark Woodfire Grill restaurants in Studio City and Huntington Beach, and has also designed a number of noted Italian restaurants in Southern California, including Vincenti, Angelini Osteria, La Piazza, Alto Palato Trattoria, Valentino at the Venetian, Posto, Palmieri, La Terza, Trastavere, and Sor Tino, as well as Tavolaccio in Colorado and various Louise’s Trattorias.
Deborah Gregory — Interior Designer
Deborah Gregory of DiG Interiors in Culver City brings to Playa’s interior design a wealth of experience ranging from large-scaled theme park hotels to trend-setting restaurants to both high-end and modestly budged single-family homes. A nine-year veteran of Walt Disney Imagineering, she held responsibility for projects at Tokyo Disneyland, Hong Kong Disneyland, Walt Disney World, and Disney California Adventure, and has also worked on projects in Beijing, Sydney, and other locations worldwide.
Eddie Sotto — Design/Partner
Eddie Sotto has been described as "a perfect storm of art, commerce, and world class execution," a creative professional with 25 years' experience in entertainment design, most notably as SVP of Concept Design at Walt Disney Imagineering. There, his portfolio of design projects grew to more than half a billion dollars in built projects over his 13-year tenure. Prior to opening Rivera Restaurant together, Sotto and Sedlar worked as a team to design and launch "Encounter,” the award-winning restaurant in the landmark Theme Building at LAX. Today, Sotto runs Sottostudios/LA, his own experiential design firm. Since he left Disney, he has brought his unique depth in design and execution to a client list that includes Wynn/Penske Ferrari, Proctor and Gamble, Universal Studios, Walt Disney World, Westfield, Galpin Aston Martin, Nokia, Motorola, and NASA/Kennedy Space Center.
Julian Cox — Mixologist
Julian Cox’s work as mixologist at Rivera won him recognition as a 2009 Rising Star winner from the respected Star Chefs website, and he also went on to develop special cocktail programs to complement the weekly pop-up chef appearances at the 2010 Los Angeles sensation Test Kitchen. Now he brings that creative sensibility to Playa, working with John Rivera Sedlar to come up with a list of rare and wonderful tequilas and agaves as well as innovative cocktails based on those and other spirits. Cox started out behind the bar in top local restaurants, before becoming a master mixologist at Comme Ça and Sona restaurants through the training program ran by the exclusive private members-only London and New York bar Milk and Honey.
Ben Broidy — Sommelier
Having developed the wine program for Rivera restaurant, Ben Broidy now brings his expertise to Playa as its wine buyer and sommelier. A Certified Sommelier through the prestigious Court of Master Sommeliers headquartered in Napa and England and a Certified Wine Educator through the Society of Wine Educators, Broidy is currently a diploma-level candidate through the Wine and Spirit Education Trust in London. He also brings sommelier experience at local restaurants Dolce and The Buffalo Club, along with extensive travels in Spain and work in wineries there that help inform the new wine list at Playa.